Everyone has one. Here's a list of mine and the reasons why I love them:
Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront
Brando delivers both a strong performance and the performance of his career. His role of Terry Malloy is the pinnacle of his career; the taxi cab scene of the movie proves my point.
Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke
As if no woman who has watched the late and great Paul Newman hasn't melted at the mere sight of him. Yes, I'm one of those women. His role of rebellious prisoner Luke Jackson defined what everyone in 1967 America was feeling.
Montgomery Clift in From Here to Eternity
There's something about the tortured character that appeals me. And Montgomery Clift's character of Pvt. Robert E. Lee Prewitt is a fine example.
Jack Lemmon in Days of Wine and Roses
Having seen The Apartment prior to this, I was sketchy on Jack Lemmon's shot at drama. By the time it was over, I was speechless by his performance of alcoholic Joe Clay.
Mia Farrow in Rosemary's Baby
I liked her work in Hannah and Her Sisters, but she wasn't in it a lot. So I watched Rosemary's Baby and that alone proves how good of an actress she is.
Ralph Fiennes in Quiz Show
The only thing I didn't like about Fiennes' performance of Charles Van Doren is the fact that it got ignored when it was awards season.
Henry Fonda in Once Upon a Time in the West
Although I like him in 12 Angry Men and The Grapes of Wrath, I loved him in Once Upon a Time in the West. This is an actor who made a reputation for playing the good guy and here he is playing the coldest villian that ever appeared onscreen.
Al Pacino in The Godfather Part II
Much like the previous entry, Pacino shows his dark side through his character of Michael Corleone. Yes, I did like his work in the first movie, but he has an edge in this one that was missing from the first.
Robert De Niro in Raging Bull
Wow, what to say about this performance? Apart from the fact that De Niro won the Oscar fair and square for his role of Jake La Motta, he gives us a performance that he will be remembered for long after he's gone.
I'll probably think of a few more, but that's another post. So what are yours?